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Fairness Act Aims to End Cash Bond

Illinois would become the first state in the US to eliminate cash bond if legislators from Chicagoland persuade their counterparts in Springfield of the merits of allowing the accused to remain free while they await adjudication.

 A Chicago senator and state representative are sponsors of versions of the Pretrial Fairness Act in their respective houses that is aimed at addressing what they contend is a racially judicial system.

According to community groups backing the initiative, two-thirds of those housed in Cook County jail are there because they can’t make bail.

Sponsors say that the legislation minimizes the impact of criminal charges on working and domestic life of those awaiting trial, which can be as severe a punishment as being jailed after a conviction. The bill contains a package of reforms, including to pretrial services and public reporting.

 Campaigners say that the prospect of a long pretrial stretch leads the accused to accept plea deals they otherwise wouldn’t have had they the cash to remain free on bond. And others to spend longer in jail awaiting trial than they would draw at sentencing. Illinois last reformed it’s bond laws in 2017.